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Obama Eyeing Non-Nuclear Missile Defense

CBS News
April 23, 2010

The New Start treaty signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev two weeks ago, aimed at cutting each country’s nuclear arsenal, contains a provision demanding the United States decommission one nuclear missile for every missile it deploys under a new program called Prompt Global Strike.

These Minuteman missiles would be armed with 1,000-lb. conventional warheads, but would be designed to strike targets anywhere in the world within an hour of launch with incredible accuracy — ideal, perhaps, for striking a cave if intelligence hears that a certain terrorist is momentarily hiding there, or destroying a North Korean missile before it is fired.

But the weapons’ capabilities are enough to raise fears in other nations of a nuclear strike. …

Maintaining such a weapon in the American arsenal would require reassuring Russia, China or other nations that a U.S. missile being fired does not represent the beginning of a nuclear attack upon them, sparking a nuclear retaliatory launch against us. …


Obama administration spending billions on new global strike weapons

By Bill Van Auken
April 24, 2010

The Obama administration is spending billions of dollars to develop new weapons systems, including powerful conventional warhead missiles capable of striking any target in the world within less than an hour.

The US Air Force carried out two separate test launches April 22—one at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and the other at Cape Canaveral, Florida—designed to further the development of these weapons systems.

The first system, known as Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or CPGS, would be capable of striking anywhere across the globe within under an hour of a launch order, using intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from the US to deliver conventional warheads against targets in other countries.

Capable of striking a target with an impact speed of up to 4,000 feet per second and a payload of up to 8,000 pounds, these warheads would be able to obliterate everything within a 3,000-foot radius. …

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) carried out a test launch Thursday of a space plane known as the Falcon, or Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), a suborbital vehicle that is the prototype for the CPGS delivery system.

It was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a decommissioned ballistic missile, from which the plane separated just outside of the atmosphere, hurtling back to the Earth at a speed of more than 13,000 miles per hour, more than 20 times the speed of sound. The plane was supposed to crash into the Pacific Ocean near a US military test site on the Kwajalein Atoll.

The other unmanned space vehicle launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral was the X-37B. The Pentagon remained tight-lipped about the highly classified program, refusing to say even when the 29-foot plane—which resembles a smaller version of the space shuttle—would return to earth, much less specify what it was carrying or give any detailed explanation of its mission.

While it is estimated that the cost of developing the X-37B will run into the billions, the precise amount also remains classified, included as part of the Pentagon’s “black” budget. …


Issue of US base a ‘ticking time bomb’ for Japanese PM

Irish Times
By David McNeill
April 22, 2010

JAPANESE PRIME minister Yukio Hatoyama has apologised to the people of a small Japanese island for sparking rumours that they could be forced to host a huge US military heliport.

Mr Hatoyama said in parliament yesterday that he was “very sorry for causing concern” to Tokunoshima Island, after more than half its population of 28,000 came out last weekend to protest against such a base.

The humiliating mea culpa is the latest episode in an issue that has become political kryptonite in the prime minister’s seven-month-old government – and which may well cause his downfall this summer.

Mr Hatoyama said last month that he would “risk his [political] life” to solve one of Japan’s most vexing foreign-policy problems – reducing the huge US military burden on Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa. …

Mr Obama’s government is demanding that Tokyo honour a 2006 agreement to replace Futenma with a giant seaport, including an 1,800m runway, off Okinawa’s northern coast near the town of Nago – all paid for by Japan. In January, Nago voters gave their verdict on the row when they elected the virulently anti-base Susumu Inamine as mayor. …

This week, the mayors of three towns on Tokunoshima – about 200km north of Okinawa – revealed that they had been approached by Tokyo to see whether they were amenable to a solution. They were not, and when news of the plan leaked angry citizens staged the biggest protest in the history of the island. ….


Up to 250,000 Gulf War vets complain of ‘unexplained symptoms’

Washington Post
By David Brown
April 10, 2010

As many as 250,000 veterans of the first Gulf War “have persistent unexplained medical symptoms” whose cause may never be found, although genetic testing and functional brain imaging may eventually shed some light on the problem.

That is one of the conclusions of a new review of research on the constellation of physical complaints originally known as “Gulf War syndrome” experienced by many soldiers soon after the United States drove invading Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in early 1991.

The review, by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, found that the only illness clearly caused by the Gulf War is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is present in 2 to 15 percent of Gulf War veterans (depending on how it is diagnosed), and about three-times more common in them than in soldiers who served at the same time but were deployed elsewhere.

The 12-member panel of medical experts also found “evidence of an association” between Gulf War service and anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse, dyspepsia, irritable bowl syndrome, and “multisymptom illness” (its term for Gulf War syndrome) although not clearly a causal one.

Among the features of “multisymptom illness” are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, poor sleep, moodiness, lack of concentration, and in some people, skin rash and diarrhea. A survey of 10,000 veterans conducted in 2005 found that 37 percent of those who were in the Gulf had the illness, compared to 12 percent deployed elsewhere.

An increase in vague symptoms and persistent pain has also been seen in some non-American groups, including British troops who served in the Gulf, and Danish peacekeepers who were there after the war.


U.S. Global Strike Weapons to Replace Some Nukes

Washington Post
By Craig Whitlock
April 8, 2010

As the White House pushes for cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon is developing a weapon to help fill the gap: missiles armed with conventional warheads that could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

U.S. military officials say the intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as Prompt Global Strike weapons, are a necessary new form of deterrence against terrorist networks and other adversaries. As envisioned, the conventional missiles would give the White House a fresh military option to consider in a crisis that would not result in a radioactive mushroom cloud.

The Prompt Global Strike program, which the Pentagon has been developing for several years, is already raising hackles in Moscow, where Russian officials predict it could trigger a nonnuclear arms race and complicate President Obama’s long-term vision of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. U.S. military officials are also struggling to solve a separate major obstacle: the risk that Russia or China could mistake the launch of a conventional Prompt Global Strike missile for a nuclear one. …

Deployment of a conventional ballistic missile is not expected until 2015 at the earliest. But the program has received a recent boost from the Obama administration, which sees the missiles as one cog in an array of defensive and offensive weapons that could ultimately replace nuclear arms.


America’s Secret Afghan Prisons

No Agenda News
By Anthony Fox

Investigation Unearths New US Torture Site, Abuse Allegations In Afghanistan

US secret prisons in Afghanistan continue to exist, under the Obama administrations. Andan Gopal interviewed Afghans who were detained and abused at several disclosed and undisclosed sites at US and Afghan military bases across the country. He also reveals the existence of another secret prison on Bagram Air Base that even the Red Cross does not have access to. It is dubbed the Black Jail and is reportedly run by US Special Forces.

While the military claims that abuse has lessened in the past three or four years, the torture reported today takes place in the smaller secret prisons and less in the Bagram Air Base main prison. Acts of waterboarding or swallowing large amounts of water, being hung from chains, being bitten and attacked by dogs, being slapped, kicked and punched, having to kneel on a metal bar as it is rolled across the shin, sleep deprivation, and being naked in public or outside in cold weather have been reported.

The question of accountability emerges around this issue. Because the Special Operations Forces are not under NATO rules of command and separate from the conventional military, little is reported and has been said concerning the night raids and secret detention centers. In its attempt to stamp out the growing Taliban insurgency and Al Qaeda, the US military has been arresting suspects and sending them to one of a number of secret detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. These night raids have become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The raids and detentions, little known or understood outside the Pashtun villages, have been turning Afghans against the very forces many of them greeted as liberators just a few years ago.


The Chargossians need support

Parliamentarians attack FCO on timing of Chagos announcement
April 3rd, 2010 by Peter Harris:

Jeremy Corbyn MP and Lord Avebury have become the first Parliamentarians to
formally criticise the FCO over its announcement to create a no-take marine
protected area (MPA) in the Chagos islands.

Mr Corbyn – a longstanding supporter of the Chagossians and Chair of the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands – wrote to the Foreign Secretary David
Miliband to highlight a promise given by FCO Minister Ivan Lewis just three weeks

“I therefore put on record a commitment to make sure, wherever possible, that
interested hon. Members are briefed before we make final decisions on the marine
protected area.”

This guarantee, made to MPs during a parliamentary debate, was cynically ignored
by the Foreign Secretary when he made his statement during the Easter recess and
lays bear just how much importance Mr Miliband attaches to parliamentary scrutiny
of his actions……

read more on the UK Chargos Support Association website: www.chagossupport.org.uk

New strategic arms reduction treaty linked to missile defense

April 2, 2010

On April 8 in Prague, Russia and the United States will sign the new strategic arms reduction treaty which will be linked legally to missile defense. …

The new treaty does not mean to limit the development of U.S. missile defense. The Russian and U.S. presidents agreed from the very start that the treaty would focus on strategic offensive armaments, while missile defense would be the subject of another dialog …


Guam set to oppose relocation of 8,000 Marines to island from Okinawa

Mainichi Daily News
April 2, 2010

The local community in the U.S. territory of Guam is leaning toward rejecting the planned relocation of about 8,000 U.S. Marines to the island from Okinawa Prefecture.

The local governor, who had initially expressed his willingness to host the troops, is now calling for a delay in the deadline for the relocation, set at 2014.

While Japanese legislators and government officials insisting that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma be moved out of Japan hope Guam will host a substitute facility, growing anti-base sentiment in the island community has cast a shadow over even the already agreed-upon relocation of some 8,000 Marines.

The recent dispute in Guam over the relocation of Marines suggests that the situation on this resort island is similar to that of Okinawa, where residents are protesting the excessive burden of hosting U.S. bases in Japan and historically unequal relations between the island prefecture and the central government. …


Tokyo under pressure to foot infrastructure bill for expansion of Guam base

Mainichi Daily News
April 2, 2010

Japan is under mounting pressure to foot the expenses of building infrastructure necessary to expand U.S. bases on Guam to accommodate about 8,000 Marines to be relocated out of Okinawa Prefecture, as Washington has failed to shoulder the financial burden.

The Guam territorial government estimates that $3.9 billion, or approximately 370 billion yen, will be necessary to build an additional sewage treatment facility, power station and improve roads and bridges. The amount is eight times the annual budget of the island.

A high-ranking Guam government official expressed grave concern that the island could go broke, pointing out that the federal government has stopped short of pledging to foot the costs. He then asked if Tokyo will shoulder the financial burden.

Military bases cover 30 percent of the land area of Guam, with Andersen Air Force Base situated in its north and Apra Harbor Navy Base on its west coast.

Furthermore, a total of 17 servicemen from the island have died in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and in a Feb. 15 address Guam Gov. Felix Perez Camacho emphasized that Guam dedicated more lives and land per resident to war than any other state or territory in the United States.

Angered by a federal government that is trying to force the islanders to make further sacrifices, the Guam legislature adopted a resolution on Feb. 11, demanding that the plan to expand bases in Guam be revised, and in his Feb. 15 address Gov. Camacho insisted that the expansion of U.S. bases in Guam be delayed beyond 2014. …